The City of Aiken is looking for ways to better control traffic around Chukker Creek Elementary. (WRDW-TV)
News 12 First at Five / Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2012
AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW) -- The scene around 7 o'clock Tuesday morning was similar to what it is every morning and afternoon Monday through Friday. Chukker Creek Road was gridlocked with bumper-to-bumper traffic for almost an hour.
For many of the drivers, it's just a regular morning there.
"A firetruck could not get to us, an ambulance could not get to us, at certain times of the day," said Sandy Randall, who lives off Chukker Creek Road.
She knows the pain of sitting in traffic well. The gridlock is actually the school car-line spilling over from Chukker Creek Elementary onto Chukker Creek Road.
Randall lives in a neighborhood just past the school. It's a two-lane road and a winding one at that. That's why she says it's so tough -- and scary -- to illegally pass in the other lane against the flow of traffic.
"There is a double yellow line, and as we all know, we should never cross a double yellow line," she said, adding that the area is regularly patrolled by officers in an effort to prevent drivers from passing illegally.
She says sometimes the traffic stretches back more than half a mile toward Whiskey Road.
Now, the City of Aiken is proposing an extra 1,800 feet of pavement and 40 more parking spots. They plan to clear a section trees to make a serpentine loop where parents can wait in their cars off Chukker Creek Road.
However, not everyone is happy.
"I'm concerned that this is going to make it much more difficult for anyone who wishes to move out of their property and sell it," said Philip Winsor, a resident of Woodside Plantation, whose property abuts the back property line of the school.
Wonsor's backyard would be only yards away from the proposed paved lanes.
On Monday night, he addressed the Aiken City Council. He's fearful of more noise, more stormwater run-off and more carbon monoxide fumes closer to his home.
"The bottom line is it is for the safety of the students," said Principal Amy Gregory, who sees things differently.
She says she hopes it's only a matter of time until the gridlock traffic is a thing of the past.
"There've been minor fender-benders, but we're concerned there might be a major accident soon," she said.
On Monday night, after a lengthy discussion, the Aiken City Council unanimously approved first reading of the expansion plan. It'll face a second approval in just a couple weeks.
The plan includes 25 feet of a vegetative buffer between the car lanes at the Woodside Plantation property line.